As homes become more connected, how are consumers able to meet carbon emission goals while improving their smart homes? CES 2021 exhibitor Schneider Electric dives into the myths and truths of net-zero homes.
This year has brought intensive home energy use, as the places we live double as our workplaces, restaurants, gyms, schools for our children and sometimes even as our car charging stations. Despite a global halt to commuting, the amount of CO2 in the world’s atmosphere hit an all-time-high in May 2020 and keeps rising. With our homes expected to become the single largest greenhouse gas emitters over the next decade, responsible for up to 30%of all new carbon dioxide globally, some may be wondering if we can continue to enjoy the simple pleasures like open fire cooking while still achieving our ambitions for net-zero CO2 emissions targets. It’s tempting to think we can’t have both.
At Schneider Electric, we believe that countries can meet their carbon emissions goals without having to make sacrifices at home — whether we are talking about our comfort, health or safety. This is why we are presenting four innovations at CES® 2021 – we believe that by using cutting-edge, innovative smart home technologies, we can better track and control our domestic energy consumption and turn our homes from just smart to both smart and sustainable.
Let’s look at some common net zero home myths and see where fresh thinking and smart technology can help us meet that critical goal:
Myth 1: Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is the main culprit behind household emissions
HVAC is currently a major contributor to domestic energy consumption and emissions. However, it’s unlikely to remain so as smart home technology adoption accelerates.
A lot of the energy consumed by HVAC is inevitably wasted – either through forgetting to turn it off when it’s no longer needed, or heating rooms that aren’t occupied for most of the day. Preventing this becomes much easier once you have visibility and control through smart energy management. Furthermore, the technology exists already to decarbonise HVAC systems. Green energy and solar power can fuel these systems in a net-zero way.
The Square D™ Energy Center, part of the Wiser ecosystem of solutions unveiled at CES 2021, is a major step towards enabling net zero, self-sufficient homes, and bringing sustainable energy choices directly to consumers by allowing them to power energy-hungry home systems with renewable energy sources and help reduce HVAC energy waste.
Myth 2: The more connected your home is, the harder it is to keep your energy bills under control
Just how environmentally-friendly is a ‘smart’ home, filled to the brim with power-hungry intelligent security, heating and lighting systems? Surely the more gadgets you have installed, the more power your home will consume?
In actual fact, the most important thing is how connected those smart devices are. In isolation, it’s easy for any electrical system to run up eye-watering energy bills. Yet, when these different devices are connected to each other through a centralised, interoperable power management system, synergies emerge. We went even further and at CES we are presenting a new Square D X and XD range of connected light switch and sockets series that now help homeowners meet their own specific sustainability goals.
Smart technology can also make your home safer through systems that automatically alert you to any electrical wiring problems, while giving the homeowner an opportunity to switch to backup power. Smart doesn’t make your home wasteful – it enables resilience and safer, more personalised experiences.
Myth 3: You need a big house to make the net-zero dream come true
Generally speaking, smaller homes have fewer energy needs and are likely to be better insulated than their larger neighbors. Yet even these dwellings can profit from the energy saving benefits of smart technology. With the newest technology on the market, integrated home energy management solutions already take half the space of alternatives composed of individual products.
Smaller homes make a huge difference on a larger scale, as communities of apartment owners or a collection of individual housing blocks. What’s more, a net zero home is also a safe home — where electrical fires can be predicted and prevented, most importantly, protecting the lives of those living in smaller dwellings in larger housing blocks while also reducing carbon emissions.
With this in mind, we are featuring the Acti9 Active Breaker at CES 2021. This CES innovation award winning 36mm switchboard device adds a superior level of safety to an installation by alerting users to an electrical fault, so no damage is done to the home.
Smart devices and technology require increasingly less space, in time, allowing more people to benefit from energy management and renewable energy solutions available within their communities, as energy production becomes more decentralised.
Ultimately, any home can be digitally retrofitted, equipped with a smart thermostat, IoT-connected plugs, switches and safety devices to become smarter and more energy efficient.
Myth 4: Smart homes aren’t worth the upfront cost
Sustainable and modern by design, net-zero homes are well worth the investment. You can’t put a price on greater safety and resilience. But there are financial and other non-financial advantages. Able to generate and store their own energy, smart homes are likely to be self-sufficient and autonomous within the next decade.
If we think about our homes as assets, capable of improving our lives, including mental and physical health, our financial standing through savings, and the ability to better leverage the sharing economy, we may start looking at things differently.
Smart home technology puts control in the hands of consumers — whether we talk about energy savings, power generation and storage, electrical safety or a successful virtual escape to a different reality, even when outages risk upsetting those plans. Consumers will be able to benefit from renewable energy generation on their rooftops as well as cheaper overnight energy tariffs for the energy they could store and use later. Smart technology also opens the door to being able to sell excess energy back to the grid. Instead of paying for power, you can turn it into a recurrent source of revenue through careful energy management.
To update a phrase, sometimes you need to fight technology with technology. As our lives have gotten more comfortable and sophisticated over the years, we have steadily consumed more power and generated more Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs). It doesn’t have to be this way. Smart technology is a friend, not a foe, in the fight against climate change. With solutions that are interconnected and efficiency-focused, we can continue doing the things we love, while getting more freedom to pursue net-zero living that doesn’t impact the earth.